Name: Becker, William D.
Profession: Mayor, Politician
Category: Politics and Government (Number 35)
Term as Mayor: 1941-1943
Born/Started: Oct. 23, 1876
Died/Ended: Oct. 01, 1943
Description: William D. Becker was the 35th mayor of St. Louis, from 1941 to 1943. Under his administration, the City adopted a merit system of employment, eliminating the previous patronage that had existed since the City’s founding. Mayor Becker and five other city and county leaders were killed on August 1, 1943, in the crash of a glider at Lambert-St. Louis Field.
Born in East St. Louis, IL, Mayor Becker attended Smith Academy in St. Louis and then went to Harvard University, where he graduated in 1899. He then attended St. Louis Law School and was admitted to the Bar in 1901. A year later he married Miss Margaret Louise McIntosh. They had two children. In 1916 he was elected to the St. Louis Court of Appeals for a twelve-year term. In 1928 he was re-elected for another twelve-year term. In 1941, as the Republican candidate for mayor, he defeated Mayor Bernard Dickmann, who was running for a third term. Becker’s campaign pledge was run the City as a private business should be conducted.
In August of 1941 the new mayor announced his support for a merit system amendment to the City Charter that had been submitted to a vote of the people by the preceding Democratic administration. The amendment was adopted on September 16, 1941, setting up the present civil service system for City government personnel. Also under Mayor Becker’s leadership, the City’s smoke ordinance was actively enforced and the St. Louis Civil Defense Council was set up with Colonel Harry D. McBride, director of Public Safety, as coordinator. The mayor also floated the idea of merging the City and St. Louis County, although no progress was made on this proposal prior to his untimely death. He is buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.
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